Boora Architects

People Make Buildings

Arts Centers
Campus Buildings
Civic Buildings
Custom Homes
K-12 Schools
Mixed Use
Planning
Renovation
Sustainability
Workplaces
Bodyvox Dance Center
Collin County Center for the Arts
Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Mesa Arts Center
Old Dominion University - GoodeTheatre
PICA 2004 Temporary Theater
PICA 2005 Temporary Art Center
Portland Center for the Performing Arts
Portland State University - Lincoln Hall
Scripps College - Music Building
UC Davis Mondavi Center
University of Oregon - Music + Dance
UT Austin - Bass Concert Hall
UTPB-Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center
Virginia Tech - Integrated Arts Center
Walton Arts Center
Community College of Denver
Dartmouth College Hopkins Arts Center
Earlham College Fine Arts Complex
Earlham College Science Building
Harvey Mudd College - Learning Building
Lewis & Clark College Gregg Pavilion
Michigan State - Cook Recital Hall
Old Dominion University - GoodeTheatre
Oregon State Univ - Classroom Building
Portland State University - Lincoln Hall
Scripps College - Music Building
Stanford - Knight Management Center
Stanford - Nano Engineering Center
Stanford - Huang Engineering Center
Stanford--BioE-ChemE Building
Stanford - Y2E2 Building
UC Davis Mondavi Center
UC Santa Cruz - McHenry Library
University of Oregon - Music + Dance
UT Austin - Bass Concert Hall
UTPB-Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center
Virginia Tech - Integrated Arts Center
Collin County Center for the Arts
Federal Reserve Bank NW Headquarters
Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse
McMinnville Courts/Council Building
Portland Center for the Performing Arts
Vernonia K-12 School
Boles/Kahle Beach House
Boora Beach House
360° House
The Step House
Kitchel Residence
The Tower House
Coastal Residence
Baker Prairie Middle School
Beaverton School District
Central Catholic High School Expansion
Clackamas High School
Crystal Springs Upland School
David Douglas Early Learning Center
Happy Valley Middle-Elementary School
Newberg High School Infill Expansion
St. Mary's Academy Commons Addition
Vernonia K-12 School
Mesa Arts Center
North Pearl District Master Plan
HOYT Block 15 Condominiums
The Encore Condominiums
The Metropolitan Condominiums
Adidas Village (American Headquarters)
Collin County Center for the Arts
Happy Valley Middle-Elementary School
Mesa Arts Center
North Pearl District Master Plan
Stanford Science & Engineering Quad
UC Davis Mondavi Center
Adidas Village (American Headquarters)
Bodyvox Dance Center
Boora's Office Renovation
Lewis & Clark College Gregg Pavilion
Newberg High School Infill Expansion
Portland Center for the Performing Arts
Portland State University - Lincoln Hall
Legal Office Tenant Improvement
Scripps College - Music Building
St. Mary's Academy Commons Addition
UC Santa Cruz - McHenry Library
University of Oregon - Music + Dance
UT Austin - Bass Concert Hall
Baker Prairie Middle School
Boora's Office Renovation
Clackamas High School
North Pearl District Master Plan
One Waterfront Place Office Building
Portland State University - Lincoln Hall
Stanford - Knight Management Center
Stanford Science & Engineering Quad
UC Davis Mondavi Center
Vernonia K-12 School
Adidas Village (American Headquarters)
Boora's Office Renovation
Corporate Dining - Japanese Cafe
Corporate Lobby Renovation & Sky Lounge
Federal Reserve Bank NW Headquarters
FINE Design Group
Flexible High Tech Office Design
LEED Platinum Office Improvement
Cloud Computing Offices & Amenities
Legal Office Tenant Improvement
High Tech Human Resources
High Tech Office Redesign
Literary Arts
One Waterfront Place Office Building
The Metropolitan Condominiums

Founded in 1994, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center teaches visitors about the Underground Railroad and gives testimony to ongoing struggles for freedom today. The building sits on a bluff above the Ohio River, which previously demarcated the slave-holding south from the free north. Cincinnati was one of the Underground Railroad's main stations because of this key location. The Freedom Center is part of a $1-billion riverfront redevelopment project that also includes new baseball and football stadiums. A historic bridge designed by John Roebling lies just to the south of the site. Boora served as the Freedom Center's design consultant.  Blackburn Architects of Indianapolis served as lead architect.

The Freedom Center’s site and building design are shaped by the stories within it, starting with the story of the land and the flight of escaping slaves across it. Winding paths through the building; north-south free-running walls on the site; curving forms; undulating building contours; and materials selected for weight, permanence and earthy characteristics recall the sensation of overland flight and the exuberance of freedom pursued. The entire complex of landscape and architecture is united by this single cohesive idea.

The Freedom Center is organized into three pavilions, connected by skybridges, that contain exhibits, a story theater, a multi-use theater, an education and research center, a café, and a gift shop. Since runaway slaves followed circuitous routes -- through the rolling hills of the landscape, to cross the meandering Ohio River -- these curves are echoed in the undulating stone walls that flank the museum’s pavilions and define curving pathways allowing passage through the structure and embodying the geography of escape. The building's exterior materials also evoke the sometimes harsh struggle to achieve liberty, with rough travertine stone blocks, weathered copper cladding, and granite from Zimbabwe.

The Freedom Center's Welcome Hall has been called "Cincinnati's living room."  The full-height space is located on the building's second floor, with sweeping southern views of the Ohio River. It provides a memorable sense of arrival, offers patron services, and houses the Freedom Center's art collection.  The Welcome Hall is a popular Cincinnati event space, hosting weddings, parties, bar mitzvahs, business events, and family reunions.

Housed in the Welcome Hall, a pre-Civil War slave pen is the defining feature of the visitor experience.  In the early 1800s, there were thousands of slave pens across the south. They served as cramped holding cells for slaves being force-marched on long journeys westward from Virginia to be sold at auction. All but a scant few of these buildings have been torn down, lost to posterity.  Circulation routes through the Freedom Center ensure that the slave pen not only greets visitors when they enter the building, but also comes into view multiple times as they wander through the center.

The slave pen was recovered from a farm in Mason County, Kentucky.  Farmer Raymond Evers reported the artifact to the museum and offered to donate it to the institution.  The pen had been preserved for over 150 years inside a tobacco barn that had been built around it.  When museum officials and design team members first viewed the slave pen, chains were still attached to the walls.  Chilling and powerful, the slave pen was meticulously disassembled, transported across the Ohio River, restored, and reassembled inside the welcome hall.

In addition to its exhibits, the Freedom Center contains flexible office and gallery spaces that will allow current programs to evolve and grow. An member of the Smithsonian Affiliations Program, the Freedom Center has access to Smithsonian collections, educational programs, and expertise. Since less than 5% of Smithsonian collections is on display at any one time, the Freedom Center will have the opportunity to borrow collections on long-term loan for exhibition.

The ceiling of the theater shows the night sky as it appeared on the date of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Other cultural arts centers

BodyVox Center for Dance

Collin County Center for the Arts

Mesa Arts Center

Northwest Museum of Art and Culture

Portland Center for the Performing Arts

Portland Institute for Contemporary Art Temporary Theater

UC Davis Mondavi Center for the Arts

UT Austin Bass Performance Hall

UT Permian Basin Wagner-Noel Performing Arts Center
Selected publications

Cincinnati Enquirer
"More Than a Museum," August 1, 2004

Detroit Free Press
"Another win for riverfront reclamation," August 27, 2004

Metropolis
"River's Edge: The Underground Railroad Freeom Center lends gravitas to Cincinnati's waterfront," October 1, 2004

New York Times
"The Road to Freedom, Revisited," August 1, 2004

Oregonian
"In Service to Freedom," August 22, 2004

Town & Country
"Ticket to Freedom," November, 2004
Awards

American Institute of Architects (Indianapolis Chapter)
Merit Award for Excellence in Architectural Design, 2005

American Institute of Architects (Portland Chapter)
Unbuilt Citation, 1999
Unbuilt Citation, 2002